Upcoming Events for Lent (Online and in MA)

Our new online Catholic community, My Sisters, continues to grow and develop! It is a small, gradually-growing, but vital spiritual community. I have found it a wonderful community to engage with some amazing people of faith, sharing their struggles, joys, and insights. And I’m also preparing a substantial amount of content for the site. I am most excited about our very first online Lenten retreat, which will become available on Saturday, March 3, 2018:

Daughters of Saint Paul Sr. Mary Lea Hill (author of Prayer and You, Blessed Are the Stressed, and numerous other titles–she is belovedly known as the Crabby Mystic), Sr. Margaret Michael Gillis (national vocation director for the Daughters of St. Paul and engaging popular presenter with a fascinating New York/Staten Island-version accent) and I are co-hosting our first online Lenten retreat on the theme: Seeking God’s Will: How To Listen to God in Daily Life. Here is more information below:

 

Following the retreat, on the evening of Monday, March 5th, I’ll be offering live spiritual accompaniment on this theme of learning to seek, love, and live God’s will in the My Sisters private Facebook Group.

If you are interested in growing spiritually, nurturing your faith in everyday life, or simply want to make a retreat at your own schedule/pace, I invite you to think about joining My Sisters.

 

And on March 10, 2018, I will be speaking at the 2018 Women and Men’s Conference for the Fall River Diocese with the theme, Be on Fire, Set the World on Fire! I’ve posted the flyer below. Registration ends on March 1, so if you live nearby, you’ll definitely want to register as soon as possible.

Personally, I’m excited to visit Fall River–it’s been a long time since I’ve been there–and I’m really looking forward to meeting Father Dave Dwyer, who does such amazing Catholic media evangelization!

 

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV, invites you to come to be set on fire with love so that you can set the world on fire with love!

Apostle of Love

Photo by Sr. Mary Emmanuel Alves, FSP

Photo by Sr. Mary Emmanuel Alves, FSP

Although June is traditionally observed as the month of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we as Daughters of Saint Paul have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart, Blessed James Alberione encouraged us to also consider June the month of Saint Paul, since the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul is celebrated tomorrow (June 29), and then the Feast of St. Paul for the Pauline Family is celebrated on June 30.

This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how certain themes keep running through my writing—even when I don’t intend them to be there. The main theme that keeps showing up—even unintentionally—is God’s love for us. Partly this is because I continually realize anew how much I need to grow in trust in God’s love for me, which means that I often focus on God’s love for me in my prayer and meditations. But also, I’ve been realizing that many people in our society allow unprocessed feelings to guide their decisions—sometimes even unknowingly—which often leads to poor decisions and unhappiness. Sometimes people are in so much pain from broken relationships that they need healing on all levels—including healing of their feelings. For me, the remedy to healing our feelings is twofold: 1) knowing God’s love for us and 2) falling in love with God.

As a society, we have a familiar catch-phrase: “do whatever feels good.” But allowing our feelings to always rule us leads us down a self-centered and earthly-based path that can actually become a prison of unhappiness. We are made for so much more than bodily pleasures, which don’t last.

Denying that we have certain feelings—especially the ones we consider negative or uncomfortable—gives them the power to influence us in ways that we are not aware of. Once again we become trapped by our feelings, but this time we don’t even know we are imprisoned.

The Pauline spirituality, which can be summed up in Saint Paul’s famous phrase, “Christ lives in me,” means that all the aspects of our person—mind, will, heart, body, strength—are to be completely dedicated to Christ to the point that we are in Christ, that our entire person is sanctified by Christ. That includes our feelings.

Our Founder Blessed James Alberione encouraged us: “Prayer should also involve our feelings.” In another place, he says:

“Charity is the virtue that leads to the greatest holiness. In fact, it unites the whole person to God: mind, will, feelings. It transforms the soul in God; establishes an intimate friendship with him; multiplies the person’s zeal and energy: “for love is as strong as death” (Sg. 8:6)… The same struggle takes place in every Christian:  it is a struggle between Jesus Christ and our whole human nature, which battle each other, competing for the person’s heart. Jesus Christ wants the whole person: mind, will, and feelings.”

And I realize that, as much as I’ve tried to bring my feelings to Christ to be sanctified, I still need more healing in this! This month especially, I’ve been praying to Saint Paul as the Apostle of love. (Saint Paul can be called the apostle of love for so many reasons, but if you have any doubts, read 1 Corinthians 13. Also, St. John Chrysostom said about Saint Paul: “The heart of Paul is the heart of Christ.” Wouldn’t it be awesome if that could be said about us? About every follower of Christ?)

I became a Daughter of Saint Paul so that my whole life could be about love. Now, I would describe this desire this way: I want my whole life to be a hymn of love to Christ—a hymn made up of tiny individual notes, tiny acts of love. Every moment, I have an opportunity to choose to act out of love; at this moment, that includes every letter I type and every breath I take. So I’ve been praying to Saint Paul to help me to truly be an apostle of Christ’s love, as he is.

In this image of Saint Paul commissioned by Blessed James Alberione, Saint Paul has a hand over his heart, to symbolize the great fire of love in his heart that impelled him to spread the Good News of God’s saving love for us—Christ crucified and risen—throughout the then known world. Saint Paul, Apostle of Love, pray for us!

OurStPaul

Glad to be back to blogging…

Thanks for your patience as I gradually find my way back to blogging weekly. Here’s my update on just a few notable events—some of which have prevented me from blogging the past couple of months!

* Our Pauline digital apostolate has some new features: online novenas, courses, and retreats. I’m in the midst of preparing an online version of a few mini-retreats that I’ve given, which I hope will become available in the fall (on the Eucharist and on God’s love for us), but first we had to put in the structure and put together the website. There are already some wonderful resources there, especially some lovely ones by Sr. Kathryn Heremes.  Visit: www.lightalongtheway.com to check it out!

* A 10-day get-away in which I focused solely on completing the rough draft of my next book about discernment. I’m letting it sit for about 6 weeks to gain perspective, and then I’ll begin to revise.

* The privilege of guiding a seven-day retreat for a group of our senior sisters

* A trip to Rome to participate in a seminar on Pauline (apostolic) mysticism

* Continuing to develop plans for the Communicators’ Retreat coming up in October

It seems this is one of those times when the Lord is “stirring the waters” inside me, offering multiple opportunities to deepen the spirituality of communication from several perspectives: the writings of the Founder of the Pauline Family, Blessed James Alberione; the wonderful book In a New Light: Spirituality and the Media Arts by Ron Austin; the Pope’s Message for the 50th World Communications Day; and preparing for the seminar on Pauline mysticism which is, of course, all about the mysticism of communication. All of these have been wonderful companions during this time of reflection. In particular, I’m seeing the connection more clearly between:

  • the need to keep our gaze on Christ the Master-Communicator—including our thoughts and our hearts, our focused attention
  • the importance of attentiveness or “being awake” so as to live in the present moment (which includes Alberione’s insight about the importance of sanctifying our thoughts and attitudes)
  • the “spirituality” of encounter, wherein it is possible to discover the sacredness of every interaction with another person

In the eyes of Alberione, the call to holiness of life and holiness of communication are intimately connected and could be described as the “integration” of our entire person and life in Christ, Way, Truth, and Life; an integration in which we are transformed in Christ and thus all our communication is also transformed.

Discover the Treasure of Pauline Spirituality in NYC This Week!

Just a reminder for any New Yorkers that I’ll be visiting this week for two special events:

1. Manhattan’s very own #Soul of Christ talk and book-signing at our Pauline Book & Media Center at 64 West 38th St. on Thursday evening (June 4) at 6:00 PM.

NewYorkPromoFinal

2. Daughters of Saint Paul Centenary Day of Recollection and Centenary Mass on Saturday, June 6th, from 10 AM to 6:30 PM, at Holy Family Church, where I will be giving one of two talks and will lead the Eucharistic Hour of Adoration:

Flyer for Holy Family event

Trinity as the Foundation of Our Communication

Andrej Rublëv's icon of the Trinity

Andrej Rublëv’s icon of the Trinity

The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity has gradually become one of my favorites of the entire liturgical year. (I think the process was so gradual because it’s really hard to give a good homily on this unfathomable mystery.)  One of the reasons I consider it a personal feastday is how the Pauline spirituality of communication is founded on our understanding of the Trinity:

In the Christian faith, the unity and brotherhood of man are the chief aims of all communication and these find their source and model in the central mystery of the eternal communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who live a single divine life (Communio et progressio, #8).

Our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, wrote a prayer to the Most Holy Trinity that concludes by asking that our entire lives may be a “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” The framework of Blessed James Alberione’s entire spirituality is the Trinity, to whom he connects not just salvation history, but our own personal salvation history: the stages of our spiritual lives.

After taking a seminar with Don Giuseppe Mazza on this topic vital to communication spirituality, I’ve always wanted to deepen it. So this summer I decided to put aside my favorite Theology of St. Paul by James Dunn (which I am gradually working my way through), and I picked up The Trinity by St. Augustine. I hope to follow it up with other theological works on the Trinity, such as various works of Rahner and Catherine Mowry LaCugna’s God with Us: The Trinity and Christian Life.

Yesterday’s beautiful readings emphasized that God–who is eternal Communion between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–seeks a profound relationship with us. In the first reading from Deuteronomy chapter 4, Moses points out to the chosen people that God “wants” them for his own. Psalm 33 makes this desire of God explicit, and the second reading from Romans 8, Saint Paul explains how closely we are called to be in relationship with the Most Holy Trinity. Finally, in the Gospel reading (Matthew 28) Jesus asks us to help everyone to enter into this intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, promising a special closeness to us as we witness to him: “I am with you always.” Yesterday, I simply prayed in wonder that the Almighty God so deeply desires a genuine relationship with me and with everyone on the face of the earth.

Some beautiful reflections on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity:

Fr. Robert Barron’s Homily for Trinity Sunday (Podcast and Youtube) and Fr. Robert Barron’s Top 10 Resources on the Trinity

Trinity Sunday: Is It Relevant? at CatholicMom.com, by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

 

We can make an act of faith in God’s eternal communion of love and his desire to draw us into that embrace of love every time we make that most simple, most familiar, but most meaningful prayer, the Sign of the Cross.

49th World Communications Day Mass–Come Celebrate with Us!

For any media professionals in the Boston area, come celebrate the 49th World Communications Day with us! For lots more information, visit: www.pauline.org/WCDMass

WCDMass_invitation copy

 

We are looking forward to developing other events that explore our Pauline spirituality of communication with those for whom we pray–those who work in the media. If you are interested in finding out more, drop me an email, or join us for the Mass!

Letter of Saint Paul to the World

This year is the 100th anniversary of the entire Pauline Family, and next year, 2015 is the centenary year of the founding of the Daughters of Saint Paul. With all these anniversaries, some of our young sisters in formation have created some wonderful digital presentations about our anniversaries.

The Pauline Family, founded by Blessed James Alberione, is made up of ten institutes. Alberione gave all of us together the mission of being Saint Paul alive today. This video is how one of our sisters envisions the Pauline Family being a letter of Saint Paul to the world:

For more information  about the Pauline Centenary and our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, visit: www.MediaApostle.com.

 

Love, foundation of all true communication

Last month (June 18th) I mentioned that, to prepare for our centenary year of the foundation of the Daughters of Saint Paul, I wanted to share a bit more about our communication spirituality and how it’s transformed my life.

IMG_0499Chosen and loved in Christ Jesus, together we communicate the Gospel to everyone.

These words were the theme of one of our recent General Chapters, and they have really stayed with me as a way of understanding and expressing what it means to be a Daughter of Saint Paul. At the same time, in a general way, these words apply to everyone who has been baptized!

Chosen and loved
The basic foundation of life is love. We are created by a God who loves us so much that he chooses to create us (not one of the other countless possibilities God in his infinity could come up with). As Saint Paul uses this phrase, though, it means even more than our being created by Love. “Chosen and loved” also means that we are chosen for a special reason, a unique purpose that only we can fulfill.

In The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien describes creation as God’s beautiful symphony. Each of us has our unique part to play in God’s universe-sized orchestra. Sometimes we carry the melody, sometimes we might play harmony, sometimes we provide back up or “depth” to another instrument, and sometimes we may simply be silent (or turn the page of the score for another player). But always we are interweaving with others, offering our unique “sound” to the symphony of beauty and purpose that God has designed.

Being chosen means that God gives us the joy of being special, of being needed, of having purpose in this world, of making a difference in others’ lives, of giving ourselves fully in love–which is the deepest joy we can experience as human beings.

in Christ Jesus
This phrase totally captures Saint Paul’s spirit, and I hope that someday, it totally captures the whole of my life experience. Because of the gift of my Baptism and God’s grace, all of my life is in Christ, whether I realize it or not.

But it’s not enough for me to simply know this. I want to respond to his loving invitation to “remain in him” (John 15:4) and completely dedicate every moment of my life to Christ. I want all my efforts and motives to be focused on seeking the kingdom of God; I want my every thought, word, feeling and action to be fully his.

I am still far from my goal of belonging completely to Christ, but my comfort is that he knows that my desire for this is growing, and it is his grace that will transform me so that one day–in heaven if not on earth–I will belong completely to him.

This real, passionate, “total” relationship with Christ becomes the foundation of all my actions and choices, as I hope to post about further next week: together we communicate the Gospel to everyone.

 

Praying with Saint Paul

The sisters are posting up a lovely Novena to Saint Paul, which started several days ago. You can join in now, or start from the beginning today and continue on after Saturday!

You can follow the entire novena here (click on subscribe so you receive the daily notifications), and you can also post your prayer intentions so that we can pray for you as we continue the novena!

 

Living “in the Trinity”

MotherTheclaQuote_01Today starts our centenary celebration for the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Daughters of Saint Paul on June 15, 2015! How appropriate that a congregation whose spirituality is founded on the ultimate communication–communion–found in the Most Holy Trinity should begin its celebration on the feast of the Most Blessed Trinity. I posted a short post on how the Holy Trinity is the foundation for our communications spirituality here.

The event from which we date the beginning of the Daughters of Saint Paul is the meeting of our founder, Blessed James Alberione, with our co-Foundress, Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo. I haven’t written very much about Mother Thecla because I haven’t had access to her writings in the same way as those of our Founder. But this year, as we have reflected more on her life and have read some new translations of her personal writings, I was amazed to discover how much Mother Thecla prays to the Blessed Trinity.

Here are a few of her beautiful, personal reflections. (For more, visit our new webpages dedicated to her.):

“It is Jesus who lives in me, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. To remain united to the Divine Master.”
“Holiness–I want it! To live the Trinitarian life like Mary most holy. To trust the heavenly Father; to love his Son, who came to save me; to rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit. The heavenly Father is always close to me, within me, thinking about me and providing for everything. Jesus is with me; the Holy Spirit sanctifies me. To live in union with the three divine Persons.”
“To think often that the most Holy Trinity is within me. Adoration, union, recollection…and…to keep such distinguished guests company.”
“The Trinity is my family.”

So often for the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, I focus on the theological mystery. Instead, Mother Thecla goes right through the mystery and focuses on what’s most important–her relationship with the Trinity! Absolute confidence in the Father, living in the love of Jesus Master, counting on the gift of love of the Holy Spirit to open her further to the action of the Holy Trinity in her life: this is how she describes her relationship with God. What a model for us as communicators today!